Journalist Rana Ayyub has approached the Delhi High Court, on Thursday, to challenge the Enforcement Directorate move that prevented her from flying to London, by summoning her in the ongoing money laundering case.
Ayyub was stopped at Mumbai airport just before boarding a flight to London, where she was invited by the Washington-based non-profit organisation, International Centre for Journalists, for an expert discussion on “online violence against women journalists.”
Addressing the incident, Ayuub tweeted, “I was stopped today at Mumbai immigration from travelling to deliver this address and onwards to International Journalism Festival to deliver the keynote speech on Indian democracy. I had made this announcement public over weeks, yet the ED (Enforcement Directorate) summon very curiously arrived in my inbox after I was stopped.”
She also shared the announcement by the International Centre for Journalists that read, “We are thrilled to bring Rana Ayyub to the UK for an expert discussion about ‘Online violence against women journalists’, co-hosted with Doughty Street International & International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, in London, on Friday. The invitation-only event will focus on improving responses to the crisis.”
The Enforcement Directorate is currently investigating Ayyub for allegedly violating foreign funding rules while collecting donations for Covid-19 relief over the last two years.
Earlier, on February 10, the ED froze Rs 1.77 crore belonging to Ayyub. The journalist’s assets were frozen based on an FIR registered against her by the Uttar Pradesh police, in September 2021. The complaint was raised by Vikas Sankrityayan, founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” and a resident of Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, who claimed that Ayyub had diverted large funds collected through the online crowdfunding platform Ketto for relief work.
The police invoked various sections of the IPC, IT Act and Section 4 of Black Money Act, alleging that she illegally acquired money from the public under the guise of charity.
Following this, Ayyub has also been subjected to online abuse and harassment based on the allegations.
The journalist, however, has stated that “the entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused.”
In February, the United Nations called for an end to the judicial harassment of the journalist and an investigation into the “relentless misogynistic and sectarian” online attacks against her.
Moreover, leading international publication The Washington Post ran a full-page statement expressing solidarity with Ayyub. “She has been the target of prejudiced investigations and online harassment,” wrote the publication, adding the hashtag #WeStandWithRana.